Modern cars are a marvel of engineering — the amount of thought and care that goes into building even your average family sedan is nothing short of incredible. Yet even with all the time and effort automotive engineers put into your car, nothing is ever perfect forever. Anything mechanical will, at some point, break down due to friction, heat, or any number of other reasons. We’re willing to bet that most people reading this right now are proactive car owners who do everything they reasonably can to ensure that their cars are in top shape, but even the most fastidious of drivers will experience symptoms of car trouble multiple times throughout the life of their car. Whether it be a vintage sedan, a brand new SUV, or a well-maintained and trusty minivan, you’re going to have to take your car in to be diagnosed at some point.
When your car sends warning signs that something’s not right, it’s vital that these signs are not ignored. An early fix is the smart approach, as is regular maintenance to help prevent these problems from developing in the first place.
You’re likely to know when your vehicle is being abnormally sluggish — after all, if you’re driving your car regularly and have gotten used to it responding to you, any change in that behavior will stick out like a sore thumb. It could be due to any number of reasons.
Ensuring you’re using the correct fuel for your vehicle is important, as using lower octane fuels can be detrimental to a vehicle’s performance if the manufacturer recommends premium fuels.
Dirty air cleaners and clogged fuel injectors can also cause sluggish performance, as can general engine and transmission wear. Low tire pressures, which increase a tire’s rolling resistance, can slow things down, too.
Squeaky or grinding brakes
Good brakes are vital — a loss of braking ability can be absolutely deadly when it happens at the wrong time. But since brakes are out of sight, they can also be out of mind. Always keep your ears open for unusual sounds when braking.
Some brake pads also have small metal tabs that cause squealing when the pads are nearly worn out, so this can also be an indication that the pads need replacing.
If squealing is due to worn brake pads or shoes, they might be causing costly damage to the rotor or drum. Squealing could also point to a defective rotor or drum surface. Remember, driving with faulty brakes is illegal, dangerous, and could lead to further mechanical damage.
Is your exhaust doing its best impression of a chimney stack? This kind of symptom should never be ignored. It can have various causes, some are minor, and others can be a major cause for concern.
In a modern diesel vehicle, excessive black smoke emissions may be due to poor fuel combustion caused by faulty injectors or the exhaust system. This smoke can also be a characteristic of older diesel cars.
In gasoline-powered vehicles, black-smoke emissions can be caused by too much fuel going into the engine because of a dirty air filter or a faulty electronic sensor.
More seriously, the release of blue-grey smoke could be a sign of worn engine components, such as the piston rings and/or cylinder bores.
Thumps and other noises
The cause of noises such as knocks, whines, rattles, hisses and clunks can be difficult to pinpoint. If the engine makes a knocking sound, in gasoline-powered engines this is most commonly a sign of either poor tuning and/or the fuel octane being too low.
Whines can emanate from a drive unit, axle, wheel bearings, gearbox, or power-steering pump.
The source of rattles could be anything in the vehicle, from the exhaust or hard fuel lines needing to be better secured, to poorly-fitting glass or body panels or even a child’s toy under a seat. We can’t count the number of Legos and other toys we’ve found rolling around the floors of vehicles we’ve serviced.
The suspension, universal joints, axle, steering and engine mounts can also clunk and thump.
You could try to pinpoint a noise by test driving and visual inspection. It’s possible that there might be a quick fix, such as tightening a clamp, but a pricey diagnosis and repair is, unfortunately, just as likely.
These are just a few signs that your car is crying out for help. What’s important is that you don’t ignore anything out of the ordinary — if something feels wrong, your gut instinct is probably right. You can check on a lot of these possible issues yourself, but of course, the best way to prevent accidents is to have professionals regularly check your vehicle. Let King Brothers help keep you and your family safe in your car this season. Give us a call at 313-534-8090 (Redford) or 734-744-8557 (Livonia), or feel free to request for a quote here.